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The greatest team of players you’ve watched live. Pick your team, and send it to me!

Ultimate Elevens – Mark Tinklin’s XI

Posted by eddiev18 on March 21, 2009

Here’s Mark Tinklin’s Ultimate XI. Let him know what you think of it!

‘You’ve got red on you’ was my first reaction to seeing Mark’s Ultimate Eleven and, as a Manchester United fan, it’s no surprise to see the core of his team consisting of a vast array of Red Devils, both past and present. With a hard-working midfield, and a solid defence, it is very difficult to see this lot conceding many goals, and when you’ve got the ability of Kaka and Rooney up front, they’d be sure to score a fair few too. My only comment would be that, with no real aerial threat in attack, Beckham’s greatest strength (his crossing) may not be capitalised on as much as it could be. I feel I may well be nitpicking though, as it’s a fantastic team.

Mark explains his selections below. Make sure you tell him what you think of his team by commenting below and, if you feel you have a better Ultimate Eleven up your sleeve, send it to me at eddiesfootballblog@hotmail.co.uk. I will put as many of them up on the site as possible. Before you do though, please read the criteria here.


Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel – Peter Schmeichel – The best keeper there has ever been. Made some ridiculous reaction saves and dominated his penalty area. He had a unique style and the way he spread himself owed much to his handball heritage. Strikers must have been terrified at the sight of the giant Dane charging down on them. A hero that defied logic with his agility and even scored the odd goal.

Right Back: Micah Richards – When he burst onto the scene a couple of years ago I thought he’d be the best full-back there is, but after declaring he wants to be centre-back he’s struggled to make the same impact this season. At his best he is a mix of power, energy, pace and talent and if he can rediscover his best form then he will be England’s first choice right-back for years to come.

Centre Half: Pepe – I didn’t really know much about the Real Madrid centre-back before the Euros but was very impressed with what I saw. Another who, like Ferdinand, is comfortable on the ball making him the natural successor to Jorge Andrade in the Portugal team.

Centre Half: Rio Ferdinand – Another world great. I can’t thing of a better defender in the world than Rio at the moment. Seems to get places faster with less effort than anyone else because his positioning is so good. He’s very confident too and often doesn’t mark very tight because he knows that whatever the attacker does, he’ll be there to make the tackle.

Left Back: Dennis Irwin – Gets in the team ahead of Patrice Evra which is praise in its self. Very reliable and a fantastic striker of the ball. I saw him play in a Masters match at Craven Cottage (great pies) and waited all game for him to have a shot at goal or a freekick. Eventually he took a penalty in a shoot-out at the end of the game and didn’t disappoint, smashing the ball into the top corner with consummate ease and class.

Right Wing: David Beckham – Underrated by the British public because of all his off field activities Beckham was my favourite player as a kid. Hardworking but with great technique he has shown his quality by starring at Real Madrid and AC Milan. He came second in the European Player of the Year stakes when Manchester United won the treble and scored some great goals, including a screamer against Derby County. Becks did the best thing on a football pitch I have ever seen when he curled a pass down the touchline against Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford.

Centre Midfield: Patrick Vieira – For my obligatory defensive midfielder I have gone for the frighteningly good Patrick Vieria. Much, much better than that Makalele character could ever be. He could do it all and would boss the midfield for Arsenal. Strong in the tackle, but also very good running with the ball the Gunners still haven’t been able to replace him since he left. Saying that when I saw him play he was marked out of the game by Phil Neville.

Centre Midfield: Paul Scholes – Almost every player who plays with Paul Scholes rates him as the best. Technically superb, intelligent and capable of scoring wonderful goals – see Barcelona last year and that volley against Bradford. In one Charity Shield game a couple of years back he turned Gilberto Silva with such speed and agility that the Brazilian fell over. Then he did it again. Scholes sees passes that other players don’t and is good enough to make them.

Left Wing: Cristiano Ronaldo – The best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo is the ultimate example of the modern footballer. Tall, powerful, and strong but blessed with amazing ability. His step overs are well known but he has improved as a player immeasurably since learning that he can use his pace to simply run past people. Scored a supreme number of goals last season and can only get better.

Attacking Midfield: Kaka – While his Brazilian team-mates enjoy showing off their skills and tricks Kaka is simply better than almost everyone else. He scored the greatest goal I’ve been fortunate to watch in the flesh when, in a friendly against Argentina at the Emirates, he took the ball on the edge of his own penalty area and ran the length of the pitch to score. Made the right decision in turning down Manchester City but should stop giving God all the credit for his success.

Striker: Wayne Rooney – I first became aware of Rooney when he scored a sensational goal for the Everton youth team in the FA Youth Cup. He hit the wall from a freekick 40 yards out and promptly volleyed home the rebound. Wazza scored what is probably my favourite ever goal when he smashed in a flying volley against Newcastle.

Let Mark know what you think of his team, by commenting below. If you can think of your own ‘Ultimate XI’, send it to me at eddiesfootballblog@hotmail.co.uk. I will put as many of them up on the site as possible. Before you do though, please read the criteria here.


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Ultimate Elevens – Patrick Hennessey’s XI

Posted by eddiev18 on February 7, 2009

Here’s Patrick Hennessey’s Ultimate XI. Let him know what you think of it!

Patrick Hennessey, my old SquadGod Fantasy Football ‘Obi-Wan’, has shown his age with his team. Class all over the grass though. I wonder if old Lothar is still not smiling? I imagine so…

Patrick Hennessey's Ultimate XI

Goalkeeper: Peter Schmeichel – Peter Schmeichel – When he wasn’t pulling great saves out of his arse, he was bellowing orders at ogres like Jaap Stam/ Steve Bruce – v impressive.

Right Back: Cafu – Old rubber lungs has won every honour in the game. Last seen running up and down the wing for Garforth Town (current age 52).

Centre Half: Alessandro Nesta – In the most defence minded league in the world, he has distinguished himself as a really, really defensive paisan. Great positional sense, strong tackler. The only gripe is that he’s injury prone.

Centre Half: Rio Ferdinand – No-one ‘merks’ a striker like Jar-Jar.

Left Back: Paolo Maldini – You say Roberto Carlos, I say tomato. Actually I say Paolo Maldini – partly to be different, but I feel he has a valid claim to the position. My second choice would be Julian Dicks.

Defensive Midfield: Lothar Mattaus – For most of my childhood, I watch this one-man panzer division roll through various England teams – I don’t think I’ve ever seen the fucker smile – but I respect that.

Attacking Midfield: Paul Gascoigne – Someone once asked Gazza for his Ultimate XI – he said ‘10 Gazza’s, and a goalie’. I watched him play for Lazio once, and I think Dino Zoff’s gameplan was – ‘get the ball to the Geordie’. It worked. On his day, Gazza would orchestrate from midfield.

Right Wing: David Beckham – Not the fastest, but the boy can deliver a cross like no-one else.

Left Wing: Ryan Giggs – 1999 F.A. Cup semi final, Giggs vs Arsenal’s legendary back-four, hairy chest wig, stuff of legends.

Striker: Ronaldo (The Fat One) – The ultimate number 9. I had the privilege to see him score a hat-trick at Old Trafford. He got a standing ovation from everybody when he was subbed. I think he went straight from there, to Greggs the bakers for a steak slice.

Striker: Thierry Henry – It’s just like, my opinion man.

Cheers P! Great team mate. From a social perspective, Gazza and ‘Pies Ronaldo’ would orgainse a pretty decent Christmas party, I’m sure!

Let Patrick know what you think of his team. If you can think of your ‘Ultimate XI’, send it to me at eddiesfootballblog@hotmail.co.uk. I will put as many of them up on the site as possible. Before you do though, please read the criteria here.

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Ultimate Elevens – Eddie’s XI

Posted by eddiev18 on December 24, 2008

Eleven - The Magic Number

Here’s my Ultimate Eleven. Let me know what you think of it!

Formation-wise, I was toying with a 3-5-2 formation with wing-backs, mainly because Roberto Carlos is without a doubt the best attacking full back i’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Also, if you add John Terry as an extra centre-back, the defence would have been solid as a rock. However, the absence of an attacking right-back of similar quality to Roberto Carlos, and the inability to include anyone from the veritable smorgasbord of exciting wingers I’ve seen over the years, made me favour the more traditional 4-4-2 formation.

If it wasn’t for a five month spell living in Madrid back in 2004, I’m very aware that my team would be totally different. However, I was lucky enough to be in the Spanish capital when the ‘Galacticos’ era was in full swing, which is why four players from that Real Madrid team (Casillas, Roberto Carlos, Figo, and Zidane) make it into my XI. Unlike their team though, mine would conquer because it has, in my opinion, two world-class centre halves and the best defensive midfielder I’ve seen in 20 years following the game – Patrick Vieira (only Dunga and Makalele come close to him and, as a Spurs fan that’s tough to admit!).

That isn’t to say that my team lacks flair. Not in the slightest. With Figo and Ginola providing the width and wizardry on the flanks, and Zidane in his best position (operating behind the strikers), they’d provide plenty of goals from midfield and ammunition for the two strikers.

Picking two strikers was the most difficult decision I had to make, mainly because the list of players I could choose from was so massive! However, I wanted a partnership – two players who would work well with each other. It was important that one of them was an intelligent footballer, with a good eye for a pass, and the ability to drop a little deeper to link up with Zidane and the wingers. I managed to get the list down to the following players: Ronaldo (the fat one), Sheringham, Berbatov, Rooney, Raul, Etoo, Owen, Shearer, Henry.

I decided that Sheringham was going the play the slightly withdrawn role, that was a pretty easy decision, and I was seriously considering pairing him up with his old ‘SAS’ strike-partner Alan Shearer. However, Thierry Henry was incredible at Arsenal, probably the best player ever seen in the Premier League, and I felt the team needed a little more pace. Sheringham and Henry, that’ll do just fine!

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas – Now regarded as one of the best in the world, Casillas is treated like a golden-boy in Madrid, in the same way that Raul is. A product of the youth academy, he made his debut for Los Blancos at 19, and hasn’t looked back since. Combining incredible agility with a terrific ability to command his area, this guy would have kept so many more clean sheets in his carreer if it wasn’t for his club’s ability to ignore the value of quality players in defence. I wanted to pick Peter Schmeichel, but I never saw him live, and I reckon he’s by far a better goalkeeper than James and Barthez.

Right Back: Christan Panucci – I haven’t seen too many outstanding right backs in my time. It’s the sort of position where, if you do a good job, you’re not noticed by the fans – you just quietly get on with it. Panucci is different though. He comes from an era in Italy that produced a whole plethora of fine defenders (including the likes of Maldini, Costacurta, Cannavaro, Nesta), and I have always been hugely impressed by not only his versatility (he can play superbly in any position across the back-line), but also his stamina, and determination to stick to his task. Like most of those aforementioned players, Panucci never relied on pace to defend, meaning that he is still playing at the top level, despite being nearly 36 years old. I’ve only seen him live once, and eventhough Roma lost 4-2 that day, I was hugely impressed by him.

Centre Half: Sol Campbell – When Campbell left Tottenham for Arsenal back in 2001 I, like all Spurs fans, was (to say the least) upset. Sure, the fact that our captain and product of our academy gone to our deadliest rivals was shocking (and I still don’t forgive him for that), but the real pain was caused by the harsh truth that he was simply too good for us at the time he left, and it would take years to properly replace him. He was the ultimate ‘powerhouse’ centre-half, but he was quick too. Whenever I saw him play for Spurs he would win absolutely everything in the air, and I imagine he’d be a total nightmare to play against. Fine, he was never the most graceful with the ball at his feet, but playing at Arsenal improved this side of his game greatly. A classic old fashioned centre half, which is a must for any team in my opinion. It always makes me laugh that he started life at Spurs as a striker!

Centre Half: Ledley King – Every Tottenham fan knows that, when fit, Ledley is in the top five centre halves in the world. He really is that good – better than Terry, better than Ferdinand, I have absolutley no doubt about that. However, I don’t want to start a debate about that (it’s just what I believe), as I know that most non-Spurs fans won’t see it that way, because the simple truth is that no-one has seen him play anywhere near enough in the last few years. His career has been ruined by injury, and he doesn’t look like he’s going to recover. Horrible news, but I’ve been lucky enough to have watched him when he was fit, and at his very best. Thierry Henry once described King as the only defender in the league able to match him for pace and still tackle him fairly. This highlights two of King’s best attributes – searing pace, and the timing of a Swiss clock in a challenge. He really has it all though, and is so comfortable on the ball that Sven Goran Eriksson deemed him good enough to play in midfield for England. Paired alongside Campbell, I think it gives me the perfect combination.

Left Back: Roberto Carlos – As I suggested above, Roberto Carlos isn’t really a proper left-back. I’d much rather have pretended that I’ve watched Paolo Maldini, and just whack him in the team (plus, I wouldn’t need any description as to why I’ve chosen him), but I’d be breaking my own rules so I’ve resisted. Having said all of that, Roberto Carlos played as a left back (albeit an attacking one) in a flat back four for almost every team he has played for, so he has the same role in my team. What I find most interesting about Roberto Carlos is that he was almost plagued by a stunning free-kick he scored in a friendly tournament back in 1997, as many fans just remember him for that. I remember him for his superb raiding runs down the left, as it was virtually impossible to stop him when he was on song. He redesigned the role of the full-back in the 90s and, when you put him up against the likes of Clive Wilson, Paolo Tramezanni and Justin Edinburgh, he’s a shoe-in!

Defensive Midfield: Patrick Vieira – I saw Vieira in his pomp, when Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ travelled to the Lane to win the 2003/04 Premier League title, in a 2-2 draw. Vieira finished off an excellent move to score that day, and it was the first time I’d seen him in the flesh. What a player he was. Arsenal have never fully recovered since losing him. Defensive midfielders are a rare commodity, well the good ones are anyway, and Vieira wins his place in my team simply because he had more strings to his bow than Makalele.

Attacking Midfield: Zinedine Zidane – Magnificent. The best player I’ve ever seen, hands down, and I expect that to stay that way for quite some time. I don’t mean to do him any diservice by not saying any more about him, but I really don’t think I need to. Most people are aware of this man’s genius. If you aren’t, just go to YouTube, and check out the multitude of compilation videos dedicated to the great man. I feel privelidged to have seen him play. A legend.

Right Wing: Luis Figo – Left or right, it doesn’t matter with Figo, as long as he’s hugging a touchline. One of the best players in recent memories, he was actually the best of that Madrid bunch in the 2003/04 season. He tormented defenders with his dribbling ability and, as David Seaman will remember, was a master at scoring with long-range piledrivers. With Beckham, Joaquin, and Cristiano Ronaldo all in the running for this spot in my team, I’ve gone with Figo because he consistently performed throughout an illustious carreer that has spanned almost 20 years.

Left Wing: David Ginola – Ginola was contesting this position with Brazilian winger Denilson (not the one currently at Arsenal), because I wanted a bit of fun in the team. I wanted a player who plays with a smile on their face, maybe doesn’t do a huge amount defensively, but is a crowd pleaser and puts entertaining the supporters high on the agenda. Ginola wins because he was so consitently good at Spurs, and was a shining light in a very dark period for the club. Denilson was great fun to watch, but you can’t help but look back at his career and see it as a failiure, given the promise he showed in his youth at the 1998 World Cup.

Striker: Teddy Sheringham – Sheringham is definitely the best player i’ve seen in the withdrawn striker role. Like Campbell, he was too good for Tottenham (eventhough he loved the club), and when he moved to Manchester United he got the recognition he deserved from the media, and won the medals he craved (the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup). A clever player who created just as many goals as he scored, other strikers just loved to play with him. Shearer was the beneficiary in Euro 96, and the best example of Sheringham’s ability can be seen in this clip of England’s destruction of Holland.

Striker: Thierry Henry – Man Utd fans will say that Cantona is the best ever Premier League striker. Arsenal fans will tell you that Henry deserves the award, and Newcastle fans will tell you Shearer is better than both. I’m not interested in that discussion. Henry was awesome, and he has the pace that my team needs. He and Sheringham would tear teams apart, that’s what matters.

Let me know what you think of my team below, and please send your Ultimate Elevens to me at eddiesfootballblog@hotmail.co.uk, and I will put as many of them up on the site as possible. Before you do though, please read the criteria here.

Merry Christmas!

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Ultimate Elevens – Send Me Your Teams!

Posted by eddiev18 on December 23, 2008

I’ve bought football magazines for as long I can remember. It all started with ‘Match!’ when I was a boy and, as soon as I started craving more words on the pages than pictures, I decided to move onto the fantastic Four Four Two magazine.

One of the first pages I turn to every month is the last of the magazine, entitled ‘My Perfect Eleven’, where an ex-footballer is asked to pick his perfect team of all time.

I’ve always found it an interesting read, especially as the ex-pros often reveal their relationships with the players in question. However, I am often left with the feeling that (eventhough the teams are always crammed full of superstars) if you actually put them out on the pitch they’d perform in a similar fashion to Florentino Perez’s ‘Galacticos’, or Sven Goran Eriksson’s ‘square pegs in round holes’ England team. Great on paper but too many players being ‘accomodated’, just to get them in the team. No balance = no success.

So, out of that (and attempting not to completely rip-off the magazine!), the series ‘Ultimate Elevens’ is born.

I want you to send me your greatest XI of all time, along with a brief summary of why you think the team would succeed, and a couple of lines on each player. However, and here’s the catch, you MUST have seen every player in your team LIVE – not on TV, but actually at a football match.

Now, I know that for many of you (myself included) that will rule out the likes of Pele and Maradona, but this rule will be what makes each team unique, and gives you the opportunity to share with everyone the special moments you witnessed from each player. My view is that you get a much better sense of a player’s class (particularly qualites such as body language, movement off the ball, leadership, positional sense, awareness etc) when you are actually at the game itself. Sure, TV serves its purpose well, but there’s nothing quite like the real thing.

Second of all, you can chose any formation you like. However, you MUST play every player in their best/favoured position. Now, I know that with some players it is debatable as to what their best position was/is, but what I’m trying to avoid here is a midfield crammed full of attacking midfielders with, say, Zinedine Zidane in the holding role. In fact, every midfield MUST have a defensive-minded player. I won’t publish any teams up that are inbalanced, or have players out of position. That is final!

So, here’s a summary of what I want from you guys:

  • – 11 players.
  • – Any formation, but players must be in their correct positions.
  • – Every midfield must have a defensive midfielder.
  • – You must have watched every player in your team live, at least once.
  • – Write a brief summary of why you think the team would succeed, and a couple of lines on each player.
  • Send your Ultimate Elevens to me at eddiesfootballblog@hotmail.co.uk, and I will put as many of them up on the site as possible…

    …and remember, don’t hesitate to get fully involved in commentating on people’s teams!

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